Israel longed for His coming, in fact, the whole world longed for His coming. But His coming came in a way that neither foresaw.
Rome had many prophecies regarding the coming of a king to rule the world. This, of course, was nt to their liking. Rome was a Republic (even if only marginally so under the Caesars), ruled by the Senate, the voice of the people of Rome. A king would put this rule in danger, in their minds.
Even the Israelis, who saw themselves as suffering under the rule of Rome (even though Rome allowed Israel to be ruled by King Herod, under Caesar), longed for a king to come and free them from Rome, to install Israel to the glory of it's past. A new David, a new Solomon.
This was spoken of in prophecy. "Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!' Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and his recompense before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young" (Isaiah 40: 9-11).
He will come in might to oppose the might of Rome, rule with a strong arm, etc. Prophecy said that He would be the shoot from the root of Jesse, and God would give Him the kingdom of His ancestor David. What else could it mean? It was natural for mankind to see their savior as a political one. A great warrior and king. Where else but in royalty would He come? Even Sidhartha (Buddha) was said to have been born of Indian royalty. Walking immediately and lotus blossoms blooming wherever he stepped. It was logical: to end oppression, one needed a political solution. To stop one king or emperor, you needed another to oppose him.
But God's ways are not our ways. While Israel looked for a political leader, a warrior king, they missed a small cave used as a stable, and the great event that occurred there. And the first this great news, this wondrous gift was proclaimed to wasn't the affluent and powerful, but the weak and lowly. The shepherds in their fields.
This is the way of the Lord, not power politics. Poverty and humility, not power and pride. Look through the New Testament. Did Christ confront Caesar? Did He ever call for his overthrow? "Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, 'Why put Me to the test, you hypocrites? Show Me the money for the tax.' And they brought Him a coin. And Jesus said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said, 'Caesars.' Then He said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's'" (Matthew 22:17-21).
Hardly the words for a king bent on saving someone though political means. These words alienated the Zealots from following Christ. While the Pharisees tried to use political means to get rid of Him, hoping they could accuse Him of treason against Rome.
Was He a social revolutionary? In the previous passage above, the Pharisees and Herodians answered it. "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for You do not regard the position of men" (Matthew 22: 16). "When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, 'Does not your teacher pay the tax?' He said, 'Yes.' And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, 'What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?' And when he said, 'From others,' Jesus said to him, 'Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for Me and for yourself'" (Matthew 17: 24-27).
Christ knew the tax was unfair, but did He refuse to pay it? (Though admittedly He found a singularly unique way of paying it.) He taught: "Then said Jesus to the crowds and to His disciples, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men'" (Matthew 23: 1-7).
Christ knew who the Pharisees were, He knew they were 'whited sepulchres' (ref. Matthew 23:27) saying all the right things to make people praise them, even though their hearts were far from God. They imposed laws set by their own desires rather than God's. In many ways, they are more like dissidents of today rather than early Christians.
When Christ drove the merchants out of the Temple it wasn't as a social revolutionary, but rather as one burning with love for God. "'Take these things away; you shall not make My Father's house a house of trade' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for thy house will consume me'" (John 2: 16-17). It wasn't just the merchants, the Temple had gone from being a place of worship of God and remade into a temple to worship man.
But Christ's ways are revolutionary in one respect. They don't conform to the ways of the world. Christ taught: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. "Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. "But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them" (Luke 6: 20-31).
So, we have to ask ourselves, which Emmanuel are we looking for? Which do we hope to see? The political revolutionary? If so, He isn't coming. If one comes claiming to be Him, beware.
Or are we looking the child? The humble Christ? The Christ born in poverty, proclaimed to the lowly, who rejected coronation, and, ultimately, stretched out His hands and arms to be nailed to a cross. But in this way He freed us. Not from political or social oppression, but from sin and death. Not in politics or social programs but from changing hearts. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
So, between the wrappings, the glitter, baubles and lights, think of the Babe in the manger.
Pax Christi, Pat
Byzantine tradition venerates St. Andrew as "protocletos," the first disciple called by Jesus. As the Gospel narrative relates, Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist until they were called by Jesus. It was Andrew who went to his brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah."
The Vatican delegation confirmed the fraternal ties between Catholics and Orthodox by its attendance at this feast, celebrated with great solemnity by the Oriental Churches, especially the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. German Bishop Walter Kasper, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, traveled to Turkey with Cardinal Cassidy.
In his message to Bartholomew I, the ecumenical Patriarch, John Paul II confirmed "our will to make progress on the road of dialogue and fraternal relations to reach full communion, which, at the end of the century and the dawn of the new Christian millennium, is an increasingly urgent necessity, a more ardent desire to heal our painful wounds, which are openly opposed to Christ's will and a cause of scandal to the world."
After entrusting the conversion of the sins committed against the unity desired by God to the intercession of the apostles Andrew, Peter, and Paul, the Pope confirmed that this intention is one of the most important objectives of the Jubilee and assured the Orthodox that "the Catholic Church is prepared to do everything possible to remove the obstacles, consolidate the dialogue and collaborate in every initiative directed toward advancing in full communion of faith and witness."
At the end of the message, the Holy Father expressed his joy at the thought of next January 18, when representatives of the ecumenical Patriarchate will be by his side during the ceremony to open the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople will return the Vatican delegation's visit by sending representatives to Rome for the feast of the apostles Ss. Peter and Paul on June 29. ZE99113003
The decree of beatification of the two children, who died in 1919 and 1920, was promulgated in the Holy Father's presence in June of this year, by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, following a miracle due to their intercession.
After meeting with the Pope a few days ago, Bishop Serafim de Sousa Ferreira e Silva of Leiria-Fatima, explained to a Catholic radio station in Portugal that the Holy Father hopes to travel to Fatima on May 13, 2000 to beatify the two children. The Vatican Press Office has not yet confirmed this visit. The last time John Paul II was in Fatima was on October 13, 1982, just over a year after the attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square. His pilgrimage to Fatima was in thanksgiving for the Virgin Mary's protection.
The whole of Portugal is overjoyed at the prospect of these beatifications, as Bishop Antonio Baltasar Marcelino, on behalf of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference told the Holy Father. The Bishop also shared with the Pope the tremendous pastoral challenges the Church faces in Portugal, given the frontal attacks on the family as an institution, and on life at all its stages. Bishop Marcelino referred to "the growing secularism in public life," especially promoted by the media.
John Paul II counseled the bishops that they must "overcome the all-too-common tendency that rejects every kind of saving mediation and presents the individual sinner as relating directly to God, because salvation comes to us, in the first place, through the mediation of the historical humanity of Jesus and, after the resurrection, through his Mystical Body, which is the Church."
Thus, quoting the papal bull "Incarnationis Mysterium" convoking the Holy Year, the Holy Father expressed the hope that "one of the fruits of the Great Jubilee of 2000 will be a generalized return to the practice of sacramental confession on the part of Catholic faithful."
With reference to attendance at Sunday Mass, John Paul II encouraged the Portuguese bishops to do everything possible "with delicate pastoral pedagogy," so that this Holy Year will be "an appropriate time to bring non-practicing Catholics, or those of 'occasional' practice or with 'ulterior motives' " (such as simply to obtain the benefit of an indulgence) to a "stable commitment to weekly participation" in the Mass.
John Paul II counseled the bishops to avoid two pitfalls: "activism, where the best pastoral plans and committed lives come to nothing" and "secularism, where God's voice is not heard or given space" among the people. ZE99113002
In a formal ceremony, the queen approved the legislation that was passed by parliament on Tuesday, setting the transfer of power for midnight. Protestant unionists and Catholic republicans agreed to set up a partnership government on Monday to run the province, the first time the bitterly divided parties will have shared power. Approval was first passed in the House of Lord on Tuesday and then in the House of Commons later that day, quickly setting up the transfer of power.
The resistance leader, who won the Peace Prize along with the Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili in 1997, left the former Portuguese colony in 1975, just days before invasion by neighboring Indonesia. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. In August, the region held a Jakarta-proposed referendum to allow Timorese to choose either autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. After the pro-independence results were revealed, pro-Indonesia militias, armed and backed by Indonesia's military, went on a rampage, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the former Portuguese colony.
"My first words are words of gratitude, words of thanks, of sincere thanks to each and all of you," Ramos-Horta said, addressing a crowd of 5,000 from the governor's palace. "The people of East Timor will rebuild this country from ashes of destruction. I did not come today, to arrive here after 24 years with my colleagues ... to teach a lesson to anyone because the true heroes are those who stayed behind, they are the ones who suffered, they are the ones who were tortured ... they are the ones who were killed."
Ramos-Horta also called for reconciliation with the perpetrators of the violence. "We must also forgive, so we require courage, there can no longer be enemies within the East Timorese families," he said. "Too many lives have been lost, we pray to you, our great Catholic Church ... in the darkest hours of our history it was this Church that stood alongside the people of East Timor."
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